Watchdog Writers Group

Watchdog Writers Group is a non-profit journalism institute that produces books and in-depth reporting, while also acting as a teaching lab to train the next generation of reporters.

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Watchdog Writers Group funds the type of deep investigative journalism that is no longer supported by the private marketplace. We do this by giving annual fellowships to authors, and by hiring students to be reporters alongside them. In doing this, the program hopes to revitalize newsgathering in the middle of the country about vitally important issues.

- WWG Director Christopher Leonard
Pin With String on Board

What We Do

WWG fellows will write books for a national audience about socially important issues that are often neglected by coastal-centric media outlets. The hallmark of a WWG project will be fairness, thorough reporting, and a deep commitment to the public interest.

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The Team

THE AUTHORS, CLASS OF 2022

Sarah Smarsh

FELLOW

Sarah Smarsh

Sarah Smarsh is a journalist who has covered socioeconomic class, politics and public
policy for The New York Times, National Geographic, Harper’s, and many other
publications.

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Alisa Roth

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Alisa Roth

Alisa Roth is a contributor to Marketplace, NPR, and other outlets, who specializes in mental health, criminal justice and other social policy issues.

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Shoshana Walter

Shoshana Walter is writing a book that builds on her award-winning reporting for Reveal on unpaid work camps masquerading as rehab. Her book, “Untreated,” will chronicle the many problems plaguing the country’s addiction treatment system, how it got this way and how we could do better for the millions of people in the US struggling with addiction.

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Michael Grunwald

Michael Grunwald is working on a book for Simon & Schuster about how to feed the world without frying the world. It’s about the food we eat, the farms that make the food, the forests that get cleared to make room for the farms, and the search for technological and political solutions that can prevent us from eating the earth.

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FELLOW

Mya Frazier

Mya Frazier is writing a book that expands on her recent investigation for The New York Times Magazine into America’s housing crisis and the credit reporting system. During the fellowship, she will research the relationship between class mobility and the credit system.

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THE STUDENTS, CLASS OF 2022

Mavis Chan

Mavis Chan

Mavis Chan is a senior majoring in journalism and
 political science at the University of Missouri.

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Teghan Simonton

Teghan Simonton

Teghan Simonton is a graduate student at the University of Missouri studying investigative reporting.

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Beatrice Bankauskaite

Beatrice Bankauskaite

Beatrice Bankauskaite is a Fulbright grantee and a graduate student at the University of Missouri studying documentary and photojournalism.

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Claudia Rivera-Cotto

Claudia Rivera-Cotto

Claudia Rivera-Cotto is a graduate student at the University of Missouri in data and investigative journalism.

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Jana Rose Schleis

Jana Rose Schleis

Jana Rose Schleis is a second year M.A. student in the Missouri School of Journalism. She’s studying investigative journalism, government reporting and public policy.

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Regan Mertz

Regan Mertz

Regan Mertz is a graduate student studying Documentary and Photojournalism at the Missouri School of Journalism.

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Kelly Dereuck

Kelly Dereuck

Kelly Dereuck is a graduate student researching the use of public records to report on private equity.

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THE AUTHORS, CLASS OF 2021

FELLOW

Shoshana Walter

Shoshana Walter is writing a book that builds on her award-winning reporting for Reveal on unpaid work camps masquerading as rehab. Her book, “Untreated,” will chronicle the many problems plaguing the country’s addiction treatment system, how it got this way and how we could do better for the millions of people in the US struggling with addiction.

READ BIO

FELLOW

Michael Grunwald

Michael Grunwald is working on a book for Simon & Schuster about how to feed the world without frying the world. It’s about the food we eat, the farms that make the food, the forests that get cleared to make room for the farms, and the search for technological and political solutions that can prevent us from eating the earth.

READ BIO

FELLOW

Mya Frazier

Mya Frazier is writing a book that expands on her recent investigation for The New York Times Magazine into America’s housing crisis and the credit reporting system. During the fellowship, she will research the relationship between class mobility and the credit system.

READ BIO
Pamela Colloff

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Pamela Colloff

Staff writer, New York Times Magazine
and Senior Reporter at ProPublica

Writing a book about the criminal justice system and jailhouse informants.

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THE STUDENTS, CLASS OF 2021

Cianna Morales

Morales is working with Shoshana Walter to investigate the shrouded rehab industry that has grown up around America’s opioid epidemic.

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Mark Ossolinski

Ossolinski is working with Grunwald to investigate the relationship between agribusiness and climate change.

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THE AUTHORS, CLASS OF 2020

Pamela Colloff

FELLOW

Pamela Colloff

Staff writer, New York Times Magazine
and Senior Reporter at ProPublica

Writing a book about the criminal justice system and jailhouse informants.

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PATRICIA “P.J.” HUFFSTUTTER

FELLOW

Patricia “P.J.” Huffstutter

Agribusiness Reporter
at Reuters News

Writing a book about the farm debt crisis in rural America.

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FELLOW

John Eligon

New York Times National Correspondent

Developing a book project about the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Chris Leonard

DIRECTOR

Christopher Leonard

Executive Director
of the WWG

Writing a book about a company at the heart of American political and economic affairs.

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THE STUDENTS, CLASS OF 2020

STEVEN GARRISON

Steven Garrison

Working with Pamela Colloff to investigate the criminal justice system in Missouri and
other states.

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PENG “FION” CHEN

Peng “Fion” Chen

Working with P.J. Huffstutter to build a unique, searchable database of farm debt and loan defaults across America.

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Kelly Dereuck

Kelly Dereuck

Working with Christopher Leonard to research the modern history
of U.S. banks.

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The Process

The Watchdog Writers Group provides annual fellowships to established journalists who seek to step away from daily reporting and write a book that helps deepen the public understanding of important issues. The fellowship includes a financial stipend of $50,000 a year and other means of support, such as research assistance, networking opportunities and workshops with other authors.

How to get involved

Learn more about our fellowship program

Learn more about donating to WWG

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Recent Stories

Watch here for new stories regularly.

“False Witness”

The New York Times Magazine